Colombia's Sierra Nevada del Cocuy Trek
Day 1: Rendezvous at the group's 'posada' accommodation in the Candelaria district of Bogota. A single, timed group transfer from the airport is provided. KE Land Only package services begin with overnight at the posada or guesthouse in the city.
Day 2: We start our Colombia adventure with a visit to the colonial district of Bogota - La Candelaria, where we visit the Gold Museum and the Botero Foundation, a galley dedicated to this important Colombian artist. After lunch, we drive for 4 hours to the charming colonial village of Villa de Leyva, where we stay in a guesthouse.
Day 3: Today, we have time to explore the town and to take a walk through farmland into the Guatoque Canyon. Hiking the 'Angel Circuit', our 5-hour walk takes us via an impressive waterfall and to sacred sites of the Muiscas Indian people. We return to our guesthouse in Villa de Leyva.
Day 4: Another long drive across ridges and valleys at elevations close to 3000 metres. By mid afternoon, we reach the village of El Cocuy which nestles beneath the stunning massif of the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy in the northern part of the Colombian Andes. We should have good views of some of the area's snow-capped peaks. Overnight in a guesthouse.
Day 5: After breakfast, we drive on rough roads up to the sheep farm at La Esperanza (3500m) our next overnight stop. An acclimatisation walk here will take us up towards Laguna Grande de la Sierra and into the Valley of the Frailejones, with good views of the Cocuy peaks. Overnight at La Esperanza.
Day 6: In the morning, we have another hike up to a viewpoint summit, before returning to La Esperanza for lunch. We then drive around to the cabanes at Kanwara (3900m) at the northern end of the Cocuy trek. We have lunch and a further accimatisation hike above our accommodation, which is in A-framed chalets.
Day 7: An early start as we set off to Laguna Grande de los Verdes with our mules. Our highest point today is the Boqueron de Cardenillo at 4360 metres. At our beautiful lakeside camp (4100m), we can experience many of the contrasts of scenery that the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy is famous for, with awesome view of the Ritacuba Blanco glaciers. 6 hours walking.
Day 8: Today's trek takes us to the Laguna de la Isla, then on to another lake, Laguna Avellanal (4400m). Our camp is at the nearby Cueva Larga (Big Cave). Here, we are in the beautiful Los Cojines Valley. Approximately 7 hours walking.
Day 9: This morning we leave the mules and set off on our trek with porters carrying the group's communal gear only. We pass the emerald green lake of Laguna del Rincon (4350m) to El Alto del Castillo (4550m). Having crossed over the pass we descend to our overnight campsite at Laguna del Panuelo (4300m). Approximately 7 hours walking.
Day 10: We continue our trek to Laguna de la Plaza on rocky paths. The scenery here is typical of the Cocuy and the snowy peaks and stony cliffs and terraces above our campsite explode with colour at sunset and sunrise. Camp at Laguna de la Plaza (4300m). Approximately 7 hours walking.
Day 11: We have a day-hike from camp today. Above the lake, there are a number of great viewpoints, usually free of snow: Cerro de la Plaza, Pico Negro and Pico Blanco. We also see the amazing perched block known as the Diamond. We return to spend a second night in our camp at Laguna de la Plaza. 6 hours walking.
Day 12: We cross 2 passes today, to arrive at Laguna Pintada in the Valley of the Lagunillas River (4000m). We either camp or overnight in the Susima mountain lodge. Approximately 4 hours walking.
Day 13: An optional ascent of the snow-covered Pan de Azucar (5100m). The summit has a stunning panorama encompassing range upon range of glaciated peaks, a must for those of us who are happy with crampons and glacier crossing. We return to the lodge at Susima, hike out to the roadhead and transfer back to our hotel in Cocuy. Approximately 8 hours walking.
Day 14: Our drive back to Bogota takes most of the day, with some stops along the way. For a group of 9 or more we will have a private vehicle. Smaller groups will travel by comfortable local bus. Dinner and overnight in Bogota.
Day 15: The morning is free for sightseeing and souvenir buying in Bogota. Or, you might simply want to relax in one of the cafes. KE Land Only package services end with breakfast at the hotel. An early afternoon airport transfer is provided.
This holiday involves going to very high altitude. During the course of your trip you will be spending at least one night above 4000 metres and/or trekking to 5000 metres or above. This is not something that you should worry about; the human body is quite capable of adapting to a very wide range of altitudes, but it is important that we follow some simple rules in order to acclimatise successfully. Before coming on this holiday you should read the advice on trekking at high altitude.